Women PE Briefs: In the Spotlight...


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Portfolia Founder and CEO Trish Costello thinks Silicon Valley is in a rut, and the best way out is to place diversity at the center of a new business model. Since disruption is the name of the game in Venture, Costello says dramatically increasing the number of women and people of color at all levels of VC firms will bring back vibrancy to a sector stuck in old patterns.

Tune in to this new video for the full interview.

In the Spotlight ...

Portfolia, Inc., an investment organization largely comprised of women, received important news at its investor summit in Boston last month: its first exit. OtoSense, which Portfolia invested in two years ago, was acquired by Analog Devices.

“We popped open some champagne,” Portfolia Founder and CEO Trish Costello tells Women’s PE Briefs. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but Trish said Portfolia generated nearly 2.5-times its money on the exit. Based in Palo Alto, OtoSense is a developer of sound recognition software that turns sounds and vibrations into actionable meaning.

The investment was made out of the Rising Tide Fund, a $1-million fund that Portfolia established in 2016, with Next Wave Ventures, which was founded by Alicia Robb. The capital for the fund came from 97 accredited women from 22 states and five countries. OtoSense is one of 10 companies backed by the fund.

Trish said that the fund came to know of OtoSense through angel investor Bethann Kassman, who is CEO of Go Beyond Network. Bethann, who is active in investing in Europe, learned of the company and its French founder, Sebastien Christian. After being the first investor in OtoSense, Bethann shared information on the company with Rising Tide’s investors and served as the fund’s lead investor.

Trish explained that Portfolia and the Rising Tide Fund generated a “significant return,” given that the investment only lasted two years. She said the company was “very capital efficient.” Calling OtoSense “a unique company,” Trish said that it started in the home health care sector, evaluating whether the sounds of the elderly and children were normal or of a more serious nature. It then progressed to focusing on homeland security and what constituted normal sounds. The company, though, she said, “really found its mark” within manufacturing, where it could tell when machines needed repairs based on sounds.

Portfolia is hoping it sees similar returns from the other companies in the Rising Tide Fund, as well as its other funds, she said. Trish, who co-founded the Kauffman Fellows Program, founded Portfolia in 2014. The organization has also raised, or is raising, funds to invest in Europe, as well as in companies focused on seniors, consumer and enterprise companies and women’s health.